One of the more well known sites in Costa Rica, Monteverde is a haven of biodiversity and a perfect place to visit if you really want to experience the eco-tourism that the country is famed for. I spent an amazing three days in Monteverde. Although you could easily spend more time here, for a trip to see many different regions in Costa Rica, three days was a good amount of time.

Firstly, when you start looking at Monteverde, there are so many different reserves and national parks it can be hard not to get overwhelmed. Rather than trying to cram in absolutely everything, I visited a few private reserves and Selvatura Park. Below is my three day suggested itinerary, how to get around in Monteverde and suggested places to eat in Santa Elena – the village we stayed in.

Hostel/Accomodation: Cabinas Eddy
Cabinas Eddy was a lovely accomodation set about a two minute walk from the centre of Santa Elena, with a lovely breakfast included. Rooms were private rather than it being a shared dorm, and the staff were all extremely friendly. Link to their website here if you want to check it out for your trip: Cabinas Eddy

Santa Elena Town

Day 1: Arrival in Monteverde

We took a shared shuttle from San Jose up to Monteverde. For a two week trip around Costa Rica, shared shuttles were a really good way to travel. Admittedly if you have the time to take local transport, the local transport would be a lot cheaper. However if you’re short on time then shared shuttles mean you don’t have quite the high cost of private transfers but you do get a fairly fast journey without having to wait for buses or follow bus timetables.

One of the many jewellery shops a little walk away from Santa Elena Town

Upon arrival in Monteverde, we had coffee (I would advise drinking a LOT of coffee in Monteverde, it was absolutely amazing coffee) in a cafe outside of the Orchis Garden before going into Monteverde Orchid Garden.

Orchids are a huge part of the biodiversity in Costa Rica’s forests and for the entrance price you had a private guide around the small garden to really about how important orchids are to Costa Rican ecology. We then headed to the ‘Ranario’ which is a Frog garden just outside of Monteverde.

After dinner, we had booked onto a night walk around one of the private reserves. This was amazing, being able to see a Kinkajou, snake and a toucan among many other things. There are lots of night walks to choose from in Monteverde, and you can book before or when you arrive.

Day 2: Monteverde

Our first use of the public transport was on day two in Monteverde, where we took the local bus about 15 minutes down the road towards the Bat Sanctuary. I would advise however, unlike trying to walk it and realising it was actually a bit further than expected, if you want to visit the Hummingbird Garden, get the bus up to the Hummingbird Garden and then walk back (or catch the bus back) to Santa Elena. You can stop off at either the Cheese Factory (which had lovely passionfruit ice-cream) or Stella’s Bakery on your walk back to Santa Elena. It’s a very pretty walk, with lots of viewpoints on the side of the road, and many local shops selling handmade jewellery.

El Sanctuario Ecologico, Monteverde

We spent the afternoon in El Santuario Ecologico Monteverde, which was a private, family run reserve. This was probably my favourite reserve in Monteverde. We barely saw anyone else whilst walking, the area was stunning, even with a small waterfall and plenty of trails to walk on. The staff were all incredibly friendly.

After the walk, we went on a coffee tour (still at el sanctuario ecologico). The coffee tour consisted of learning how coffee was made in the sanctuary, looking around the coffee plants and the drying shed before undertaking a hour’s worth of coffee tasting and learning how to make coffee. The sanctuary offers many experiences like this if you’re interested in cooking classes, coffee tours, night walks or overnight stays.

Day 3: Monteverde

Our last day in Monteverde was spent in Selvatura Park. Selvatura is famed for its hanging bridges and stunning canopy walks. Despite the fact that it was a little foggy (I suppose to be expected for a cloud forest), the canopy walk over the bridges was amazing. It was a very different atmosphere to el sanctuarior ecologico the day prior, however the views were amazing and I would say this is probably a must-do experience while you are in Monteverde. We also visited the Sloth Santuary and Butterfly Garden at Selvatura park before getting the bus back.

After a fairly jam-packed first few days in Costa Rica, we chilled out with patacones and dips reading and looking at the forest in one of the cafes in Santa Elena in the afternoon before packing to move to La Fortuna the next day.

Recommended Eateries in Santa Elena:

Meal at restaurant – Tacos Tacos

Tico Rico: Tico Rico was a lovely little restaurant with traditional Costa Rican food. I would highly recommend as a place to go try the local cuisine.

Tacos Tacos: Just outside of the centre (by that, I mean about 30 seconds, it really isn’t far), is a lovely Mexican restaurant if you fancy tacos – as suggested by the name.

If you want more of an overview of what to do in Costa Rica as a whole, or a more condensed itinerary, take a look at my 2 Week Costa Rica Itinerary.